A sickening trend that is becoming more prominent in today’s society is the idea of ‘revenge pornography’, the sending or distributing of sexually explicit images of former partners without consent.
Bringing technology into the bedroom may spice up a couples love life at the time. However, it can have serious and catastrophic implications as many individuals are starting to learn. What happens to the images after a relationship has fizzled out should be considered before things get hot and heavy and someone presses ‘record’.
In recent times there have been several incidents where an image of an individual in an intimate position has been shared on social networking sites and/or via email and text. The sharing of such images has, in many cases, forced a victim to change their name legally, quit a job, change professions, delete social media accounts, and alter email addresses, phone numbers and so on.
Irish woman Stephanie Lord, a writer and activist for women’s rights and blogger at feministire.com, spoke to thecity.ie about revenge porn:
“Revenge porn is becoming more and more common these days. Certainly I’m now hearing regularly about incidents where photographs of women have been shared against a woman’s wishes after a relationship breakdown or after her phone was stolen, and it’s usually via the medium of social media. Many women are reluctant to speak about it for fear of drawing attention to it though,” she said.
Stephanie also added that these photographs are being used as a weapon against women in order to shame them.
“They are certainly on a broad spectrum of violence against women. The rapid development of technology has meant that the way in which we live in general has changed, but it has also meant that the way in which women are abused has changed too, and the law has been very slow to catch up with that.
“It shouldn’t be the case that women are left to take civil actions dependent on particular jurisdictions when they are victims of revenge porn and such massive invasions of privacy. It’s a form of abuse, that’s about controlling, frightening and humiliating women which probably requires a change in the law.
“Too often people are concerned with asking why women allow certain types of photos to be taken in the first place, rather than asking why a person would actually upload something like that,” she said.
American Holly Jacobs was subjected to revenge pornography at the hands of her ex-boyfriend of three and a half years.
Due to her former partner’s behaviour, Holly’s reputation was utterly tarnished and there was no going back. The resulting consequences were horrifying as her personal life became public knowledge.
As a result, in August 2012 Holly set up a website entitled endrevengeporn.org to campaign for the criminalisation of revenge pornography. Organized by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, the website aims to provide support and advice for victims of revenge pornography and for those whose confidential photographs and videos have been disseminated on the internet without consent.
In the USA, revenge pornography is also referred to as ‘non-consensual pornography’ or ‘cyber rape.’
A fixation with sex and technology is appearing to be a significant factor in today’s culture with Hollywood movie producers taking advantage of this remarkable trend by releasing block-buster movies including Sex Tape (2014) starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel and Road Trip (2000) featuring Seann William Scott.
In recent weeks revenge porn has erupted on a mass scale, with various A-List stars including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, and Tulisa Contostavlos all falling victim to this dishonourable craze.
In addition, cash is to be earned through websites such as ‘isanyoneup.com’, a revenge pornography website that showcased explicit images. Though the website was shut down in 2012, up until then it had proved extremely popular, collecting thousands of dollars in revenue each month.
To tackle the upsurge in revenge pornography, the British Parliament is considering marking revenge pornography as a specific offence under the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.
According to a press release issued by Gov.UK, revenge pornography refers to the malicious sharing of “a private sexual image of someone without their consent and with the intention of causing them distress.”
Sending explicit material of people engaging in sexual activity or being depicted in a sexual manner may soon be an offence in the UK under the Communications Act 2003 or the Malicious Communications Act 1988. The offence may be punishable by a sentence of up to two years imprisonment.
At present there is a lack of laws regarding this activity, and so it continues to emotionally damage and physically intimidate its victims while the perpetrator hides behind a computer screen, freely allowed to embark on his/her journey of destruction.